How We Launched A Podcast And Kept Operations Lean During The Pandemic

Published: April 16th, 2022
Jeremy Simon
Founder, 3D Universe, LLC
3D Universe, LLC
from Algonquin
started November 2013
Discover what tools Jeremy recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Jeremy recommends to grow your business!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

I’m Jeremy Simon, and I started 3D Universe, LLC about 8 years ago to help make digital fabrication technologies more accessible to people across all industries.


We offer desktop 3D printers, laser cutters, vacuum formers, CNC machines, and other digital fabrication solutions.

Because we have so many customers in educational organizations, revenues are lower than normal due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. The uncertainty regarding the number of students that will be in school vs. remote learning has caused hesitation in spending amongst these organizations.

During this slower period, we’ve taken the opportunity to develop new partnerships, add to our product offerings, and generate lots of great content for our customers and followers.

As before, almost half of my time is devoted to volunteer work, most of which continues to be for the e-NABLE volunteer community, of which I’m a co-founder.

Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Our business is currently holding steady, but the ongoing COVID pandemic has slowed our growth rate to almost zero. We operate with a small team and low overhead, so we’re able to ride out slow periods like this without too much trouble.

We continue to have an excellent relationship with our primary manufacturing partner, Ultimaker, but we have also worked to diversify our partnerships and product portfolio so we’re not so reliant on a single revenue stream.

In addition to 3D printers, we are offering laser cutters, forming machines, CNC machines, and 3D scanners. We have greatly expanded our collection of 3D Universe branded 3D printer filaments by working closely with a local partner that focuses on producing eco-friendly materials.

Through that same partnership, we have been able to launch a 3D printing spool recycling program to keep all of those empty spools out of our landfills. Thousands of spools have already been recycled through this program.

As before, we have two primary means of bringing people to our website for purchase. One is paid advertising on Google, Bing, and YouTube. The other is original content that we generate and share with our customers and followers. Both of these methods continue to be effective, and we have increased our investment in both as a result. We have hired an outside organization to manage all of our online advertising, and we hired a full-time creative director to help us generate more original content.

We’ve also started a new live-stream / podcast series called 3D Universe Untethered. In this series, we interview people who are doing exciting things with digital fabrication technologies and share their stories to help inspire others. We’ve completed two seasons so far, with the third season now getting started.


With the ongoing COVID pandemic, we’ve also continued to find ways of supporting our community and protecting the safety of vulnerable populations. We spent over a year working with a team of talented individuals to develop new mask designs, including a clear mask to help with the communication problems that arise when people have to wear masks. This mask is now being produced in volume and is being offered to those who can benefit from it.


What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Our biggest lesson learned in the last year is that you have to be prepared to adjust quickly when things change. Nobody saw COVID coming, and some businesses had a very hard time adjusting to this new world we now find ourselves in.

Times of great change always represents new opportunities.

We built our company to be nimble and to leverage automation extensively so that we can do a lot with a small team. This has helped to keep our operating overhead low. So when the pandemic hit and sales started to slow down, we just had to pull back on purchasing a little bit. Other than that, we’ve been proceeding more or less as usual.

We’re feeling especially good about our long-term future in light of what we’ve seen with the pandemic and recent natural disasters. Both of these things have led to the disruption of traditional supply chains, and companies are struggling to figure out how to avoid these points of failure in the future. Many companies are learning that they can use the digital fabrication technologies we offer to reduce their reliance on external suppliers.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

We will continue to expand our product offerings (we have a long list of products queued up to be added) and develop new partnerships.

We will also continue to support the e-NABLE volunteer community, as we have all along.

Photo from an e-NABLE conference in 2019

Have you read any good books in the last year?

I have enjoyed listening to Ultimaker’s podcast series, Talking Additive

This may be cheating a bit, but I have to list our podcast series, 3D Universe Untethered, as well. Throughout the two seasons of this series we have completed so far, I have had the opportunity to sit down and talk with some amazing people and hear about the wonderful things they’re doing with digital fabrication technologies. It’s been truly inspiring!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Times of great change always represents new opportunities. Look for ways of differentiating your business that is specific to the new models of business that are emerging (reducing dependence on external suppliers, remote workers, etc.).

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!